How far have computers come in helping students achieve and grow as learners?
Initially computers were used in education as drilling machines with a built-in reward system. The question appeared, the student submitted the correct response, and the reward was usually some graphic depiction on the screen (balloons, fireworks, etc). This reward was for recalling the information and nothing more.
After this stage, computers were utilized as tutorials. These acknowledged incorrect answers with remedial instruction. Information was presented by the computer and the student tried the test again. The major fault of this type of student-computer interaction was the lack of reflection or empowerment by the student to learn from error through investigation.
The third stage of the student-computer relationship involved intelligent tutorials. This very scientific model had three components: the student model, the expert model, and the tutorial model. The student made a product which was compared to the expert product stored in the system. The discrepancies between the two were noted and the tutorial model ran based on that data. In my opinion, the intelligent tutorial was essentially as sterile as the basic tutorial.
I use the mindtool model. This model is constructivist. The technology tools which students use to interpret and make meaning of Spanish are mindtools!
There are two types of processes using the mindtool model. The first is experiental. This is a very active process and students must experience something in order to have data.
The second process is the reflective process. This is necessary to examine the data and present it.
The technology tools are then used to create new content and become the building blocks of real knowledge.